Acacia seeks clarification on North Mara dispute, production jumps

Acacia Mining Plc saw a surge in gold production in April thanks chiefly to a 54-percent rise in output from its disputed North Mara gold mine in Tanzania.

Acacia, majority-owned by Barrick Gold, is embroiled in a long-running tax dispute with Tanzania and had cut output by a third after the government banned the export of mineral concentrates in 2017.

Barrick's Chief Executive Mark Bristow on Wednesday said the company was seeking a solution to Acacia's stand-off with the Tanzania government, but it was 'proving difficult'

The company in March introduced a revised mining plan for both the underground and open pit mines to address production problems at North Mara and said its successful implementation had put it on course to hit output targets of 500,000 ounces to 550,000 ounces in 2019.

"I am pleased with the improved production levels now being achieved and remain confident of delivering against our full year production guidance," Interim Chief Executive Officer Peter Geleta said.

"(…) We maintain our focus on what we can control."

Acacia's shares rose 4.9 percent to 148.7 pence in early trade, taking the stock to the top of London's midcap index .

Barrick's Chief Executive Mark Bristow on Wednesday said the company was seeking a solution to Acacia's stand-off with the Tanzania government, but it was "proving difficult".

Bristow also said that "almost any solution is better than none" on the issue.

Acacia, which has been negotiating through Barrick with the government, said a negotiated resolution with Tanzania remains its preferred outcome and said it was seeking clarification on comments made by Bristow on the dispute.

"Acacia is seeking clarification from Barrick regarding Mr. Bristow's reported comments, not all of which are consistent with Acacia's own understanding of the position, as well as Barrick’s expectations for the conclusion of their direct discussions with the GoT (government of Tanzania)," it said in a statement.

Gold production at North Mara in April was 33,941 ounces, 54 percent higher than the monthly average during the first-quarter, after the implementation of a revised mining plan, the firm said.

The company also said gold production in April was 47,805 ounces, 37 percent higher than the monthly average during the first three months.

(By Abinaya Vijayaraghavan; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)